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Flattery: Looking beyond the rhetoric for the Iowa caucus

BY NEIL FLATTERY | JUNE 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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The 2016 presidential election is slowly approaching. Once again, the Iowa caucuses will play a prominent role of being the first state to have a say in nominating the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. 

In order to persuade us to vote for them, prospective candidates will use the all-too-familiar tactics of advertisement-smear campaigns against opponents, Iowa farm photo-shoots, far-fetched campaign promises and trips to Pizza Ranch to pretend to be “one of us.” What we may not receive from the candidates is in-depth discussion on the important issues and their plans for how to deal with them. 

It is our duty and responsibility as educated voters in Iowa to look beyond the political rhetoric, big names, and smear campaigns to accurately determine the best possible candidate to lead our country. 

As Iowans, we have a disproportionate amount of say in the election process. Not only do we have the distinction of the first caucuses or primary, but we also tend to be a swing state in the general election. Because of this inordinate amount of influence, the political discourse tends to sway in our favor. 

We can use this influence to either leverage our own interests or help ensure that our country has a competent leader. I realize that Iowa has its own needs to be addressed, and this avenue can be a useful means of acquiring the necessary resources for Iowa. 

However, some of our interests can be superfluous from a nationwide point of view. It is more the responsibility of our elected representatives in Congress to look out for our specific interests than it is the president’s. Therefore, we need to avoid letting our own interests take precedence over what may be the best for the nation.

The presidential candidates will work to win us over with their speaking skills, family-name credibility, smear tactics, and pocketbooks. Looking beyond the rhetoric and politics, determining which candidate is the best fit based upon overall merit will be the challenge for us as voters.

A conscience effort needs to be made to educate ourselves on the important issues so that we can expand our knowledge of current events, making sure our decision isn’t based upon a couple cherry-picked issues. 

Finding a candidate who agrees with me on personally important issues will play a crucial role in determining which candidate I support. I am looking more for a candidate who can work well under tremendous amounts of pressure and stress to make the tough and ethical decisions — not necessarily the most popular. I am looking for a candidate willing to sacrifice re-election by not pandering to powerful lobbyists or interest groups. I am looking for a candidate who does not say one thing and do another. 

Does this candidate exist? Maybe not. Nevertheless, I will look deeper than the political advertisements on television and the Pizza Ranch photo-shoots in order to find my vote.


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